Interview: Dub FX

Hailing from the vibrant streets of Melbourne, Benjamin Stanford – also known by his stage name, Dub FX – has transcended traditional genres to create a mesmerising blend of dub, reggae, electronica, dancehall and hip-hop. However, his artistry goes beyond the mere fusion of musical styles. Dub FX is a masterful live performer and a self-proclaimed activist whose talents extend to the realms of social commentary and thought-provoking lyricism. 

By Ruby Brown

I began our conversation by asking Ben about the release of Infinite Reflection and why he chose to drop a new track over the course of nine consecutive weeks. 

As an independent artist, I don’t have the financial backing of a big record label to promote my music with large-scale publicity campaigns and get constant airplay on the radio. So, following the conventional promotion methods is pointless as I can’t compete with them. Instead, I wanted to come up with a unique strategy that suits my situation. We built a fanbase through relentless street performances and viral videos on social media, but the algorithms have since made it difficult to reach my fans. Therefore, the only way to gain momentum from social media is to release high-quality content regularly. So, we came up with the idea to release each song as a single”. 

Curious to understand the key influences behind his distinctive sound, I ask how the singer approaches fusing elements of often polarising genres to create his very own. 

“I don’t overthink it when I am in creative mode. For me, art is about expression. I take all the things I love and mash them together in a way that makes sense. As artists, we take things we have already seen and heard and put our own spin on it.”

The fusion of genres that has characterised Dub FX’s sound since he first released Live in the Street in 2009 begs the question of who his biggest inspirations have been throughout his career to date.

Candidly, he states “I don’t have a particular favourite artist or music style. I have a sort of photographic memory, so I can capture grooves and production tricks that I hear and remember them while making my music”. 

As I delve deeper into the thought-provoking messages concerning societal issues that both Infinite Reflection and much of Dub FX’s broader discography consistently aim to illuminate, I ask Ben to elaborate on the causes that hold a special place in his heart and why he chooses to incorporate them into his lyrics.

“The main theme for me is self-empowerment, and it always will be. It’s really important to me that the ideas and messages I project have an unequivocal positive impact on people – instead of writing songs about feeling sad, I choose to write songs about overcoming sadness. Similarly, instead of creating songs that complain about society or the government, I write songs that envision how I wish society was organised or how people are awakening to the deceptions around them. My lyrics always contain a strong message of positive affirmation.”

Woman Rising is highlighted as a standout track on the album that sees Dub FX collaborate with his wife, Sahida Apsara, to address issues such as gender-based violence, misogyny, and oppression.

Speaking about this personal collaboration and how it came into fruition, Ben explains “I was playing the piano with my daughter and came up with the main riff. She started dancing, and that’s when the lyrics popped into my head. I began singing it, and then my wife entered the room and said that she liked it. So, I suggested that she write a verse for it. She did, and we recorded it. The whole process was super quick and effortless.” 

While Infinite Reflection features collaborations with several talented artists, including Streppa Style, Nappy Paco, Paolo Baldini DubFiles, Frase, Mista Savona, Mr Woodnote and KILAFAUX.

When asked about his favourite musical alliance to date, his response is unequivocal. ”My wife. She is super talented, and I wish we could do more together. I’m actually producing an album for her right now. It’s sounding better than my own record!

Currently on the last leg of his extensive European tour, I ask what fans can expect from his live performances, and how he has brought the experience of Infinite Reflection to the stage.

“So far, so good. I play 8 out of the 9 tracks from the record on the live show, so it’s working really well. I have a great team around me who help bring my vision to light. I’m truly blessed”. 

You can catch Dub FX performing his first UK show at Thekla, Bristol on Tuesday 21st November.